|Posted by ashlybauserman on January 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM|
I've had the great fortune of having lived in 4 continents by the time I was 16 in environments that were completely unique from one another. I'm also lucky to have been able to travel more than the average person as well as spend an extensive amount of time in several locations. My parents did an amazing job choosing the right country during the right age range.
I was actually born in Alexandria, VA in the same house that I currently live in. Phil was brought to this world about a year and a half later and we ended up moving to Guatemala right after. Guate was a great place to spend the first part of my childhood as we had my mom's family living there, El Salvador where she's from was right next door and more than anything, our latin side was very much instilled in us. We then moved to Africa; first to Zambia for 5 years and then Ghana for 2 where we learned what it really meant to live "organically." Playing meant playing outside - always. We made our own soccer balls out of plastic bags and string, we made games up by digging holes in the ground and using little pebbles, we made golf courses near the trash area, we climbed trees, ran a whole lot, found insects and gecko's and took care of them and just used overall used our imaginations to entertain ourselves. It really was a beautiful way to grow up. No pretences and very little interest in the material world, but instead in the secrets of nature.
By 12 we had moved to Germany for the next 4 years allowing my teenage mind to be shaped by art, creativity, different European cuisines, languages and more than anything it provided the greatest platform for an open mind. People in Europe grow up and mature faster than anywhere else in the world - that's for sure!
The first time I actually have a memory of living in the U.S. didn't come until the age of almost 17. It was incredibly strange to pick a bedroom in the house I had been born in and go to school in a country that I had always considered myself a huge part of and realize that I didn't fit in AT ALL. There's something really mind-boggling about being the child of a diplomat and experiencing more comfort in foreign countries than you do in what is supposed to be your own. It has taken me a good 8 years (even though I studied abroad in Italy, did a summer internship in Guate, visited my Dad in Prague several times for extended periods of time and even lived in Guatemala in 2010) to finally feel at home here in Virginia.
People ask me all the time where I'm from and ironically I always feel like I'm lying or short-changing myself by saying I'm from Virginia. I've thought about this a lot the last few years. I think I would say I consider myself a citizen of the world at this point. You know that saying, "Home is where the heart is?" What if pieces of my heart are scattered everywhere? That's a huge part of the reason why I travel so much; it gives me access to so many parts of myself that I need to continue to nurture and feed or else I end up feeling like something is missing. That's another reason I tend to gravitate so much towards people that have a deep appreciation for cultures other than their own; that's what I connect to.
So, I've been thinking of where I'd love to go next in the next few years to keep expanding on what my parents instilled in me - deep curiousity for what else is out there. I made a list of the top 10 places I'd like to go and hopefully one day I'll have a photo album for each
8. Papua New Guinea
If any of you have been to any of these locations, I'd love to hear about your experiences and recomendations